Words an’ Pictures: This’ll Kill You! – The Shocking Suspense of Reed Crandall

“Carrion Death!,” Shock Suspenstories #9, 1953 http://bit.ly/2xhRgh2

Greetings comics fans! For my first post in a long while, I would like to do a brief spiel about one of my favorite suspense and horror illustrators, Reed Crandall (1917 – 1982).

Reed Crandall had a long, productive career with masterful artwork that spans several different genres. But what I would like to focus on in particular is his work with suspense and horror comics, beginning with his illustrations for E.C. (Entertaining Comics). Crandall was a relative latecomer to the E.C. crew, illustrating his first story for the company with “Carrion Death! in 1953’s Shock Suspenstories #9. Crandall’s work was an immediate asset to E.C., particularly in its crime and horror titles. This wasn’t just due to his ability to draw a shambling corpse, which he could certainly do, but primarily due to his attention to detail and ability to use that detail to highlight a character’s desperation.

“Carrion Death!” shows Crandall using this detailed close-up technique to great effect, pushing a relatively simple story — one of a criminal on the lam finds himself handcuffed to a dead policeman in the middle of the desert — into the realm of pure graphic brilliance. Crandall juxtaposes close-up panels with wider shots of the surrounding desert that highlight the vastness of the wasteland around the main character, heightening the suspense of the story as our anti-hero escapes justice only to find himself at the mercy of a different, crueler fate.

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Words an’ Pictures: The Patriots

ec-comics-logHello, fellow comic fanatics! While this is technically the second installment of Words an’ Pictures, it is the first in which I will actually be primarily discussing comics and not just rambling about myself (as I did in my introductory post). As such, I figured that it would be good to kick things off by discussing a true classic, and the first thing that came to my mind were the many fantastic comics published by E.C. (Entertaining Comics) way back in the 1950s.

For those unfamiliar, E.C. began as Educational Comics, and was run by a man named Max Gaines from 1944 up until his death in 1947. After this, E.C. was taken over by Gaines’ son, William, who not only changed the name of the company to Entertaining Comics, but also proceeded to change the world of comics forever.

E.C.’s landmark titles included Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Two-Fisted Tales, Weird Science Fiction, and Mad, and they were written and drawn by some of the absolute best talent the medium has ever seen. These comics had such an impact, even, that there was also a cult television show produced by HBO in the 90s devoted to adapting E.C’s horror and crime stories that borrowed the Tales From the Crypt moniker (an excellent examination of which can be found in JFR Blog Editor Michael Lane’s series here).

To try to discuss all aspects of E.C. comics in one post would be insane, so instead I will focus in on one particular title this week — and it is arguably my favorite of their catalog: Shock Suspenstories. The stories contained within it proved that aside from being masters of science-fiction, brilliant humorists, and slingers of gore, the good “boils” and “ghouls” at E.C. were true patriots.

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